Did you know that the Vatican has its own observatory? To help promote that fact and to show the Church’s support of science the Vatican Observatory has a new updated website. According to the website: “the Vatican Observatory is one of the oldest active astronomical observatories in the world, with its roots going back to 1582 and the Gregorian reform of the calendar.” In addition, the site hosts a regular podcast and online store. This endeavor is just one small example of the Church’s consistent support of science throughout history.
The First Vatican Council teaches that “there can never be a real conflict between faith and reason, since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind.” At the same time, we cannot think that science will provide all the answers to every one of life’s questions. Many Catholics (even priests) have contributed to scientific discoveries. Some priest scientists include St. Albert the Great (who worked in the field of botany), Father Christoph Clavius (who invented the Gregorian Calendar), Father Gregor Mendel (known as the “father of modern genetics”), and Father Georges Lemaitre (who formulated the Big Bang Theory).
Often critics point to the trial of Galileo by the Inquisition in 1633 as a sign that the Church and science are in conflict. Like many historical events, the reasons for Galileo’s condemnation cannot be so simplified. Regardless, such events are rare and the Church officially apologized to Galileo in 2000.